This blog is a personal take on Listowel, Co. Kerry. I am writing for anyone anywhere with a Listowel connection but especially for sons and daughters of Listowel who find themselves far from home. Contact me at

Tag: St. Vincent de Paul Page 1 of 3

The Square

Listowel Town Square in August 2023


In Listowel Town Square

This well was discovered when the square was being reconfigured in 1997/98

Lest we forget, this stone stands at the gable of St. John’s, a reminder to us of all the lives lost in all conflicts and wars down through the ages.


I found this treasure in the swap box in Listowel library. as well as some great football related poems, there are some quotations from football lovers.


On Church Street last week

Martin Chute busy doing what he does best

Martin does it the old fashioned way, maul stick in one hand, paintbrush in the other, total concentration unaware of anyone around him. He will be surprised to see this today.


St. Vincent de Paul shop volunteers

It is always a treat to visit this shop, open now on Wednesdays, Thursdays Fridays and Saturday mornings. Huge range of preloved and new clothing and lots of books, accessories and bric a brac at very affordable prices. And the kindliest and most helpful volunteer shop assistants.


Public House on Church Street Closing Down

Flanagans is another victim of high overheads and a change in the drinking patterns of Irish people. Refurbishment is going ahead next door in the old Perfect Pairs premises so hopefully Flanagans will have a new tenant shortly too.


A Horsey Fact

A horse’s digestive system is a one way passage. A horse can’t burp or vomit. This is why if your horse gets colic he is in terrible pain. There is only one way for trapped wind or fermenting undigested food to go. In a small number of cases colic in horses can be fatal.


Beautiful Kerry, Have a Book on Us, A Leprechaunand Some St. Vincent de Paul Volunteers

Photo: Martin Moore


Good Idea

If you felt like a read of something while on your visit to Ballybunion, here was your problem solved. This table of free books catered for a wide variety of tastes.


A Tall Tale from Clandouglas National School in The Schools’ Folklore Collection

Once upon a time there lived in the Parish of Ballygologue Listowel a man named Paddy Muldoon. Paddy was a bit of a ne’er do well, never settling down to any steady job but like McCawber always hoping for something to turn up. In that same district lived an old man named Johnny Sullivan. Johnny was great at telling yarns about ghosts, fairies, leprechauns, Headless Coaches, and so forth. Now Paddy having plenty of time because he did little work often visited old Johnny to hear his tales. But of all the stories the one he liked best was that about Leprechauns because that crock of gold would be no black eye to Paddy. However although he dreamed of crocks of gold, in his sober senses he gave the matter little thought. Paddy generally took a short cut to old Johnny’s abode. This path usual in country places skirted a Fort and on through a bog. One fine day in the summer time Paddy was sauntering along whistling gaily, when on raising his eyes what did he see right in front of him beside the Fort, but a wee little man seated on a stool hammering away at his shoe. A Leprechaun, thought Paddy, as he darted forward + seized the Leprechaun and shouted “I have you at last, where is the crock”. You have me all right, said the Leprechaun, but give us a chance, don’t shake the life out of me, and I will show you. The crock is in the bog beyond but the ground is very soft and you must tie your shoes very well. Look, one of your shoes is nearly off. Ah you old cock, said Paddy, that won’t do. You know old Johnny told Paddy that he should never take his eyes off the Leprechaun, for if he did the Leprechaun would vanish. Just at that moment another man Joe Cassidy came along the path, and when he saw Paddy holding the Leprechaun began to congratulate him on his good fortune. Both of them became so excited, that Paddy for a moment, took his eyes off the Leprechaun, who instantly vanished leaving Paddy standing there to mourn the loss of his crock of gold.

COLLECTOR Maureen Mc Elligott

NFORMANT Mr John O’ Halloran


Magnificent trees on Listowel Pitch and Putt Course


In Ballybunion


Return of the St. Vincent de Paul shop

My friends in Listowel St. Vincent de Paul shop are back in action and would welcome donations.

The shop is located on Upper William Street.

It is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 11 to 5

Some of the helpful volunteers who run the shop are Mary, Bina, Hannah, Nancy and Katsy. I love to drop in to them. They are always helpful and friendly.

You’d never know what treasure you might find there.


Mike the Pies, Namir and ladies and Memories of the 1974 Panto and a new fire engine in 1959

 Photo; Chris Grayson in an abandoned house in Kerry


Listowel’s Best Music Venue

Aiden O’Connor has worked hard to build his family pub business into a much sought after venue for established as well as up and coming musicians.

The pies of the title are no longer served here. But top class entertainment is always guaranteed.


Limerick Graphic Art Exhibition with a Listowel Connection

If you have any interest in graphic art you must visit this exhibition in Limerick City College of Art. It features posters from the Michael O’Connor Collection. Some are his own work and many are from his international collection.

Daniel Murphy alerted me to this show which closes on March 17.

“Michael O’Connor was born in Listowel, Co. Kerry where he lived throughout his life. O’Connor made his own posters & prints to advertise local events in Listowel and a selection of these prints are included in the Poster Collection.  Michael O’Connor died in September 2010.”

Above are three of Michael’s linocut  posters


Chance Meeting with a Celebrity

Since his appearance on The Late Late Show, Namir Karim is a national celebrity. I ran into him in the St. Vincent de Paul shop recently so I popped into the photo myself with Ingrid and Kay. We are all so grateful to Kay Carr for falling in love with Namir and bringing him to live in North Kerry. Our community is greatly enriched by his presence. Iraq’s loss!

A week later and I am in Ballybunion with some friends for a catch up during the mid term break and once again I meet the man of the moment, Namir. He is such a gracious host in his lovely seaside restaurant. On a cold wet day in February 2019 Namir brought a little warmth into our lives with his tale of love and its triumph over war. He shared Kay’s scrapbook with us with some of his many love letters to her and an account of her fraught flight from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Theirs is a love story deserving of a film.

I couldn’t resist another photo op. with Namir and my friends, Bridget and Geraldine.

A New Fire Engine

In 1959 Kanturk got a new fire engine . It was the custom in those days to bless everything. Danny O’Sullivan took these photos of Canon O’Leary blessing the new vehicle. The firemen turned out in their best bibs and tuckers and a few local people gathered to witness the ceremony.

Dave O’Sullivan was doing a bit of research on this event for me when he unearthed a Listowel connection.

In 1959 Listowel was also in line for a new fire engine. It took a bit longer for Kerry County Council to come up with the goods


A Street Musician

At Market Street corner on Saturday February 16 2019.


Ah, Memories, Sweet Memories

I got the following email from a blog follower for whom the account of that first pantomime brought back happy memories.

Hi Mary,

Please find attached copy of my ticket for Hansel & Gretel on Saturday 5th January 1974! I don’t have a huge memory of it but I am wondering if I am recalling this correctly. I recall being at a show (and most likely now, it is probably this one) and part of the backdrop at one stage was myself and my sister walking up Ballygrennane hill coming home from school. It is very unlikely that this bit of footage still exists? It would be incredible to see it again if it is, 45 years later!!

Love getting the updates, especially anything from 60’s/70’s, I lived in Listowel from 1966 to summer of 1974. My Dad continued to live in Listowel until his death in March 2007.

Best Regards,

Sheila Knightly

Killarney Cathedral, Dress to Impress and Volunteers at the local P shop

Rainbow over St. Mary’s Cathedral , Killarney

Photo: Eddie Farmer

This photograph was taken by Eddie on Jan 19 2019.



This fashion shop which has been dressing North Kerry ladies for over twenty years is soon to close. When it does, Danny’s Hair and Beauty will relocate across the street.


A man, a boy and an ass

Source; Photos of Old Dublin

The man on the left on the phone is Mattie Lennon, a great friend of Listowel and a contributor  to Listowel Connection.

The year is 1996 and the photo was taken on Bachelors’ Walk. The uniform is that of of a bus inspector.

Mattie does a spot of writing and he has sent us this essay for our entertainment.

                           DIP ME FLUTE 

     Long before DeValera expressed his dream of “comely maidens and athletic  youths at crossroads” young people held crossroads dances at Kylebeg in the West Wicklow of my youth. At the time it was the equivalent of Facebook or Dateline. 

     There was the occasional “American Wake” ‘though not described as such in our part of the country. And during the twenties and thirties there were also a number of regular dancing houses; usually dwellings with flagged floors and one or more eligible daughters. The small two-roomed home of John Osborne was one such house. Situated at the hill ditch, which divided the common grazing area of “The Rock” from the relatively arable land. There was no road to the house. . It was accessible only through the aptly named Rock Park; the nocturnal negotiation of this field a feat even for the most sure-footed. This had one advantage; when the Free State government introduced the House Dance Act of 1935 which banned dances, dancers and musicians. You had to get a licence to hold a dance, even in your own house. They came up with a moral argument against dancing and ,if you don’t mind, a sanitary facilities argument. But as one commentator said, at the time, the Government don’t care if you make your water down the chimney as long as they get their money. But a breach of the law could result in a court appearance and penalty.

However there was no danger of a late night invasion of John Osborne’s by any Government Inspector. Because even the most dedicated servant of the State would not risk a nightime ambulation through the Rock Park. As the shadows jumped on the whitewashed walls and the lamplight flickered on the willow patterned delph an official invasion was the furthest thing from the minds of the revellers.

   John Osborne,  the man of the house was an accomplished flautist. Did he, I wonder, favour saturating his instrument, like, Neddy Bryan, the flute-player from Ballyknockan,   who on arrival at a session would request the facility to “….dip me   flute in a bucket o’ water”. According to the older people, Neddy Bryan, when he was a young man played the Piccolo . . . that is . . . until the local schoolmaster informed him that the name Piccolo came from Piccolo Fluato, the Italian for a small flute. “I’ll be damned,” says Neddy, “ if I’m going to be called the fella with one of thim things.” and from then on he concentrated on  the  CONCERT FLUTE. Neddy was a fair enough flute player but John Osborne would get so engrossed by certain tunes that he would go into a sort of a trance. 

One night he was after playing a tune called High Level (Now . . .if I was sworn I can’t remember if it was a jig or a reel). Anyhow, one of the boyos says to him, “Do you know that your daughter is abroad in the haggard with Jimmy Doyle?”  

“I don’t,” says John,  “But if you whistle a few bars of it I’ll have a go at it”.

 Dancing wasn’t the only thing that went on in such houses. Now . . . now . . That ís NOT what I’m talking about. If you’ll listen for a minnit I’ll explain. If John  Osborne was alive today he would be described as eccentric. Well . . . I suppose he wouldn’t . . He was a poor man and you have to be well off to merit the euphemism “eccentric”.  Anyway , he was a bit odd but could have some very practical, if unorthodox solutions to certain situations. I’ll give you an example. One night a visiting dancer; a fine young fellow who had the book-learnin’ was going the next day for an interview with a view to joining the Garda Síochana. Opinions were divided as to whether he was of the required height. Until a horse dealer, a relation of my own, stated with some authority,

“That man is not the full eighteen hands high.”

A stone cutter who only lived one field away went home and returned with a six-foot rule. And sure enough the prospective polisman proved to be half an inch short of the required height. What was to be done?. This was before the era of “brown envelopes” and anyway times were poor. John Osborne hit on a plan. When the dancers back was turned he dropped his flute and with the maximum alacrity picked up an ash-plant. Almost before the pause in the music was noticed he gave the young man a belt of the stick on top of the head. ‘A fellandy” it was called up our way. The man in question had a good thick head of hair and the resulting bump brought him up to the required height.

  He made a good Guard but ever after, in our area anyway, he was known  as “lumpy head”. There were some colourful nicknames around our place, one young male patron of Osborne’s was known as ‘you’ll have yer ups an’ downs”. You are going to ask me how anyone could end up with such a cumbersome handle. Well . . . I’ll tell you. It was inherited- like a peerage. His father, as a young man had met a girl at a house-dance, a few miles away. Her parents were dead and she had returned from the US of A and, of course, had a few dollars. And . . . she was an only child, into the bargain and . . had  inherited a good few acres. Me man played his cards well and told her a few stories that wouldn’t exactly run parallel with the truth. Anyway, to make a long story short, the relationship blossomed and they got married. He was a steady enough lad . . . he had a few head of cattle . . . five or six. But . . . he had five brothers and each of them had a good few cattle. . . which he borrowed for the occasion. ( In modern banking parlance such a move would be described as “an artificial boost”) The new bride must have thought she was back in the land of extensive ranches when the herd was installed on her little farm. There was shorthorns, Friesians, whiteheads and a couple of Aberdeen Anguses. Needless to say, for the first few mornings after the wedding the young couple didn’t get up too early. But one morning when the new bride arose from the marriage bed she noticed a reduction in the herd. One of her brothers in law, under cover of darkness, had repossessed what was rightfully his. When she pointed out the loss the spouse his only comment was “you’ll have your ups an’ downs” . “You’ll have yer ups an downs”. Every other night a similar  raid would take place as each brother took back his livestock and every time the moryah innocent husband would say “you’ll have yer ups an’ downs”. 

But I’m rambling. Nowadays I think they call it digressing. 

I mentioned earlier about the practice of dipping the wooden flute in water. Well, whether for flute-immersion or not a galvanized bucket of water was a permanent feature on the stone bench outside Osborne’s door. And one June night when the boys and girls, (a term used to describe those unmarried, and under 70) having made it relatively unscathed through the Rock Park, were knocking sparks from the floor. They  were glad of the opportunity, amid the jigs and the reels (and God only  knows what other energy-sapping activities) to exit occasionally for a   refreshing draught from the Parnassian bucket. 

  At day-break, while preparing to depart, the exhausted assembly was informed by a youth (who was looked on locally as “a sort of a cod”) of  how he had suffered during the night with a stone-bruise on his big toe. The pain, he  said, would have been unbearable but for the fact that; ” I used to go out now an’ agin an’ dip it in the bucket o’ water”. 


The Joy and Camaraderie of Volunteering 

Lovely customer assistant volunteers in Listowel’s St. Vincent de Paul shop on Friday Feb. 1 2019. the atmosphere in this shop is always so warm and welcoming, and they have some lovely  new and pre loved stuff for sale.


A Great Weekend for Kerry People

On Friday evening Feb. 8 2019 Namir and Kay Karim were invited to the Late Late Show to tell their story of enduring love and their triumph over adversity in their determination to be together.

You’ve read the story on Listowel Connection before but it was lovely to see them tell it to a national audience. They conducted themselves with decorum and dignity in a giddy environment. what a couple!

If you are in Ballybunion be sure to call in to Namir’s, a lovely place to eat.


It was a great weekend for football fans. Every Kerry victory gives Kerry people a lift. A victory over Dublin is always extra special.

And to add to the pleasure two Kerry clubs won their own All Ireland finals so all in all a weekend to remember.

Placenames from Dúchas collection, a 1994 quilt for charity and The Haunting Soldier in Dublin

In Gurtinard Wood I was thrilled to see a little bird at home. No bats about though.


Duagh from the Dúchas collection

Photo; Caoimhín Ó Danachair


Place Names

Informant, Mrs K. Quilter

Collector-Maureen Lynch- Informant- Muiris Ó Loinsig


The name is still used by the local inhabitants and probably means the Glen of the Quern. It is beside this glen the “brittlen” woman used to be heard.

In the farm of Pat Trant Jnr, Behins, there was a blessed well. This was known to the older people as Tobar Uí Leidhin. There was an old midwife living in Behins named Moll Barry. One May morning she went to the well for a can of water. She had hardly reached the well when she was lifted off the ground and the next place she found herself was below at the monument in Lixnaw, spirited away by the good people.

Beside the well there was a graveyard. A glen beside it is still known as Gleann Dóighte.

Beside our house is a place called Pike, on the main road between Listowel and Castleisland. Old Ned Prendiville use to say that there were two gates here and everybody who passed the way with cattle or cars had to pay a toll of a halfpenny. There was also a pound there. 

There is a Dispensary at Pike. In this building was the old National school whose first teacher was John O’Connor. O’Connor was not long there when he had to flee the country owing to his connection with the Fenians. Then came my Grandfather old Master Lynch who taught there for six years and who opened the school at Rathea in 1875.

My Grandfather was a native of Knockanure. He used to tell stories about a woman name Joan Grogan of Knockanure. This woman used to be “out” with the good people. One night they were on their way to Castleisland to decide whether a girl there named Brosnan was to be taken away or not. On their way they called in to my grandfather’s aunt the wife of Michéal Ruadh Kirby of Behins and took her snuff box as a joke. Micéal Ruad’s wife met her a few days after at the big fair in Listowel (13th May). Joan asked her did she miss her snuff box on such a morning and she said she did. Micheal Ruadh’s wife told her she heard them laughing in the kitchen that night.

Maureen Lynch

M’athair Muiris Ó Loingsig O.S a d’innis an méid sin dom. Rathea Listowel.


Kerryman 1994

Does anyone know where this is now? Does anyone remember it, the making of it or the handing over of it?


The Haunting Soldier

I went to Dublin to see The Haunting Soldier and I was mightily impressed.

This art installation commemorates all the soldiers who served and suffered in the Great War . The artist was invited to bring the creation to Dublin to remind us of the tens of thousands of Irishmen who soldiered in WW1. Many of them were killed or received life changing injuries.

The statue is forged entirely from scrap metal, bits and pieces of nuts, bolts, cogs, springs, horse shoes, chains etc., etc.

My two friends, Assumpta and Peggy, posed with two people with a Listowel connection who were also in St. Stephen’s Green to see the Soldier.


Ard Churam Concert in St. Mary’s, Listowel

A super variety concert with the very best of music, singing and recitation was enjoyed by a packed church in Listowel on Friday evening, November 23th. 2018

Owen MacMahon was our host for the evening. No better man for the job. He entertained us with anecdotes, jokes and poems as he provided continuity between the acts.

Finbar Mawe welcomed us on behalf of Ard Churam. He told us about the ambitious plan to build a dementia unit, following the success of Ard Churam which is soon to be working six days per week.

Karen Trench’s Silver River Feale was a highlight of a show full of highlights. We also heard Seán Ahern, Kim Healy, the excellent Ballydonoghue Comhaltas group as well as a group from Listowel Comhaltas and a junior choir from The Kerry School of Music.

It was a night for meeting old friends.

The Ard Churam choir were the stars of the show. They were a credit to their musical director, Mary Culloty O’Sullivan. Mary, a world class soprano.  also sang for us . Heavenly!

Mike Moriarty said a few words on behalf of Ard Churam.

John Kelliher who did a great job of photographing the proceedings has posted a video of the performances on Youtube

Ard Churam Concent in St. Marys

It comes in at the end of Owen’s joke so I’ll fill you in. The wife of the great Seanchaí, Eamon Kelly once said that he wore his hat at all times only taking it off in the church and in bed. “And he slept in both places.” she said.

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